Seven teens from the Honey Brook and Coatesville area have lost their lives in drunk or impaired driving accidents since 2010.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving will host Walk Like MADD, a 5K walk, as a memorial for those teens and raise awareness on May 4. Honored within the opening ceremony will be Britany Leger, age 15; Montgomery Wood, age 16; Collin McElroy, age 16; Jerry Warfel, age 14; Kyle Marsh, age 17; Evan Pringle, age 15, and Myles Mack, age 17.
Honey Brook Small Business Alliance group, founded last year by Cindy Risbon, proprietor of Alternative Wellness LLC in Honey Brook, “have been assisting Kate Leger on this journey in any way we can.”
“Join me in supporting Kate Leger and bring local awareness to our community!” writes Risbon to the Tri County Record.
“Kate’s daughter Britany, age 15 at the time, was killed almost four years ago in the crash on Beaver Dam Road in Honey Brook,” said Risbon. “Kate was, and continues to be inspired to hold this walk in memory and honor of all Honey Brook teens who have been involved in an alcohol related accident over the last four years. The most recent being Myles Mack, age 17, killed on Jan. 18, 2013. Our small community has last too many.”
Tel Hai Retirement Community in Honey Brook Township is the sponsor of the opening ceremony on April 11 as the crash took place across the street from Tel Hai, according to Risbon.
According to a press release, Tel Hai Retirement Community Vice President Sue Verdegem presented Leger with a $500 sponsorship check as part of the company’s sponsorship of the walk. In addition, Tel Hai is paying the registration fees for all employees participating in the walk.
Last year, Tel Hai surveyed the Honey Brook region asking what issues residents felt needed greater attention. According to Keeli Looper, director of Volunteer Services at Tel Hai, underage drinking and drunken driving were the two primary concerns, according to the release.
“Underage drinking and drunken driving are two things that our community tells us needs more education in terms of the very dangerous consequences,” Looper said in the release. “It’s something that we can see is a real need. Unfortunately, there is a tragic connection between Tel Hai and Leger’s deaths, and the MADD Walk is something we want to support.”
“This is the first 5K I have organized, and it is also the first walk of its kind in Downingtown,” says Kate Leger, walk coordinator and affected mother. “My sincerest hope is that it will gain enough popularity and interest to become an annual event.”
The Walk Like MADD 5K, held rain or shine, will take place at Struble Trail in The Ponds in Downingtown. Registration and check-in will begin at 9 a.m. at the Chester County Crimes Memorial, where Leger’s daughter, Britany, has a brick. The goal is to have around 150 walkers and raise about $10,000, including registration fees, toward awareness of impaired driving events.
Leger said the date and location of the walk are dear to her heart.
“I chose to have the walk on what should have been Britany’s 19th birthday rather than the anniversary of the crash,” Leger said. “This walk is about saving lives, not mourning the loss of them.”
Struble Trail was one of Britany’s favorite places to ride her bike or walk the dog.
“To her, life was a journey, not a destination, and one she passionately embarked on in her own way and forging her own path. I will always remember Britany as a free spirit who could take any situation and make you laugh.”
Prior to her involvement with MADD, Leger would speak about the crash and the importance of good decisions with the Crime Victims’ Center of Chester County.
“Immediately after the crash, I was afraid of the size of MADD’s organization and questioned its ability to give me the individual attention and counseling I needed,” Leger admits. However, just before the third anniversary of her daughter’s death and after hearing about Myles Mack’s death, her daughter’s then boyfriend, Leger became involved with the organization against impaired driving.
“I was infuriated that someone else I knew and cared about had to die from someone else’s stupidity and selfishness.”
As she looks back on why she decided to organize a 5K walk, Leger said her number one priority is to raise awareness.
“Deaths attributed to impaired driving are 100 percent preventable; there is no science involved other than the mystery of people choosing to care, be responsible, and not to drink and drive.”
More details about the Walk Like MADD event can be found on the Get Involved page of the MADD website, www.madd.org.